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Retire in Calgary Guide

If Calgary is on your retirement radar, our detailed Retire in Calgary Guide is your go-to resource. Delve into the crucial aspects of life here, including living costs, climate, housing options, healthcare services, and residency procedures. We also explore the city's social dynamics, volunteering scenes, transportation, and how walkable its neighborhoods are.
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Calgary, is a popular destination for international retirees, offering a high quality of life, stunning natural beauty, and a welcoming community. The city is known for its friendly locals, excellent healthcare, and a wide range of recreational activities. However, like any place, retiring in Calgary comes with its own set of challenges, including adjusting to a new culture and climate, and navigating the cost of living.

Understanding the Cost of Living

Calgary is one of the most affordable major cities in Canada, especially when compared to Vancouver and Toronto. However, the cost of living can still be a shock for some retirees, particularly those from countries with a lower cost of living. Housing is the biggest expense, but utilities, groceries, and healthcare can also add up. It’s important for retirees to budget carefully and consider their financial situation before making the move.

Experiencing Calgary’s Climate

Calgary’s climate is a mix of continental and subarctic, with cold, snowy winters and warm, sunny summers. The city is known for its Chinooks – warm winds that can cause a sudden increase in temperature during the winter months. While the cold can be a challenge for some, many retirees enjoy the change of seasons and the opportunities for outdoor activities like skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking and biking in the summer.

Access to Quality Healthcare

Calgary boasts some of the best healthcare facilities in Canada, including the Foothills Medical Centre and the Peter Lougheed Centre. The city also has a large number of doctors and specialists, ensuring that retirees have access to the care they need. However, it’s important to note that while Canada’s healthcare system is publicly funded, not all services are covered, and private health insurance may be necessary.

Understanding the Public Healthcare System

Canada’s public healthcare system, known as Medicare, provides coverage for most health care services. However, international retirees may not be immediately eligible for Medicare and may need to rely on private health insurance until they meet the residency requirements. It’s also worth noting that prescription drugs, dental care, and vision care are not covered by Medicare and will need to be paid for out-of-pocket or through private insurance.

Exploring Residency Options

Canada offers several options for retirees looking to make the country their permanent home, including the Parent and Grandparent Super Visa, which allows parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to stay in Canada for up to two years at a time. There are also several provincial nominee programs that may be suitable for retirees, depending on their circumstances.

Enjoying Parks and Recreational Activities

Calgary is home to over 5,000 parks, including the stunning Fish Creek Provincial Park and the popular Prince’s Island Park. The city also offers a wide range of recreational activities, from hiking and biking in the summer to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. For those who prefer indoor activities, there are numerous museums, art galleries, and theaters to explore.

Sampling Local Cuisine at Calgary’s Restaurants

Calgary’s food scene is diverse and vibrant, with a range of restaurants to suit every taste and budget. Some popular spots include the River CafĂ©, which offers farm-to-table cuisine in a beautiful park setting, and the Model Milk, known for its innovative comfort food. For a more casual dining experience, the Calgary Farmers’ Market is a must-visit, offering a wide range of local produce, baked goods, and prepared foods.

Learning the Language

While English is the primary language spoken in Calgary, the city is home to a diverse population and many other languages are spoken. For those looking to improve their English skills, there are several language schools in the city, including the Calgary Language Institute and the Berlitz Language Centre.

Getting to Know the Locals

Calgarians are known for their friendliness and hospitality, and retirees will find plenty of opportunities to meet new people and make friends. Joining local clubs and organizations, volunteering, and participating in community events are all great ways to get involved and get to know the locals.

Exploring Housing Options

Calgary offers a range of housing options for retirees, from downtown condos to suburban bungalows. Many retirees choose to live in the city center, close to amenities and public transportation, while others prefer the peace and quiet of the suburbs. Some popular neighborhoods for retirees include Kensington, Inglewood, and Bridgeland.

Getting Around Calgary

Calgary has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and light rail, making it easy to get around without a car. The city is also very walkable, particularly in the downtown area, and there are numerous bike paths for those who prefer to cycle. However, having a car can be convenient for trips outside the city or for those living in more suburban areas.

Joshua WoodJoshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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